How do the tooling costs for a sheet metal fabricated cover set compare to that of a plastic molded cover set? 

The tooling cost for sheet metal is quite minor when compared to plastic molds. Usually less than 10% of a molded plastic cover set.

How are early design considerations handled? 

Arvite would like to be involved as early as possible in the design of a new product to allow usage of existing forming tools and processes.

 What materials are normally utilized in F3's production parts?

Hot and cold rolled low carbon steel sheet, pre-plated low carbon steel sheet, perforated steel and stainless steel sheet, 300 series stainless steel sheet in polished and grained aluminum sheet and brass sheet. Material thicknesses normally range from 0.015" to 0.500". 

What is the best approach to prototyping sheet metal cover assemblies? 

We recommend prototyping cover assemblies and other components using laser stitch cutting and hand forming several or all the bends of the Cover Assembly. Then apply several tack welds to reinforce the structural integrity of the Cover Assembly. This reduced cost method allows the designer to construct an actual model and review the actual form, fit and function criteria. 

What is the best method to obtain adequate thread length in light gauge sheet metal?

We recommend utilizing self clinching style hardware. This is a proven method and engineering data to support your design is immediately available along with design considerations relative to edge distance to the center of fastener to prevent swell out and assure full 360-degree clinch. 

In electrical applications can various style knock outs be cut into the enclosure with the laser?

Yes, this is performed regularly in the sheet metal industry using laser cutting systems. You must consult the respective code(s) to make sure the lasered knock outs perform to all code specifications. 

What methods are utilized at F3 Metalworx for joining materials?

Spot welding, projection welding, Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welding, MIG welding, slot & tab, and Tog-L-Loc. 

What is the most common finish utilized on low carbon steel sheet metal components? 

By far the most common finishes are zinc plating with clear chromate or powder coating. 

Can you apply our exact logo and color specifications to the plated or powder coated part? 

Yes, we can have the component or assembly silk-screened with your exact logo requirements and any text that may be required on a production basis. 

What is the most common gauge of sheet metal utilized by F3 Metalworx that would afford our best volume pricing? 

16 and 18 gauge in low carbon steel and stainless steel are by far the most utilized sizes of material thicknesses. 

Who should we contact with our design concerns in sheet metal? 

Please call our sales and engineering staff with your design questions and sketches. We will be glad to assist you with our existing tooling to save tooling expenditure cost and other standard methods/processes for your new design.

How do we receive a firm quotation for our parts? 

The best method is to email us at [email protected] and define the part(s) as outlined along with the desired starting material. If you are able to enclose actual electronic drawing files we can unfold the part and establish the exact flat size and develop an exact quotation. Given the quantity(s) you specify we can offer a unit price that amortizes the respective cost center setup cost across the quantities requested.

What materials can be laser etched? 

We are able to laser etch these materials during the laser cutting of the parts; stainless steel and steel. Also, if the part is post plated with zinc plating and black chromate you will be able to legibly read the laser etching through the plating.

Are you able to laser cut perforated materials? 

Yes, we regularly laser cut perforated stainless steel and perforated steel parts that can be subsequently formed and rolled to your exact requirements and specifications. However, when forming perforated materials the center of the bend line moves to the weakest point or the punched row centerline of the perforated material. Liberal forming tolerances are required.

Are you able to laser cut plastic sheet materials? 

Our practice is to refer you to others with that capability as we do not have a Class I enclosure on our laser cutting system.

Do you charge for the CNC programming on our parts? 

No, we do not apply a separate engineering fee or charge for CNC programming of your parts.

Does F3 Metalworx add assembly value to sheet metal assemblies? 

Yes, absolutely we assemble rivets, spot weld, MIG & TIG weld components into assemblies along with self capturing hardware and final finishing via plating, painting or powder coating.

What is the thickest material you can laser cut accurately? 

We laser cut .5" steel, .25" stainless steel and we laser cut up to .18" in aluminum.

Can you laser cut hardened steel and spring steel? 

With our CO2 Laser System we can readily laser cut hardened steel and spring steel. This is an excellent cost saving alternative as opposed to machining or cutting the galvannealed material and then heat treating the steel.

What tolerances are normally maintained with precision sheet metal parts at F3 Metalworx? 

We normally hold hole sizes to +/- 0.005" and forming to +/- 0.010". However, we do hold certain hole sizes or external diameters to +/-0.001" on several parts.

How are the flat parts inspected and documented for quality control? 

We utilize a VIRTEK LaserQC Inspection machine that given the thickness of the part automatically compares the actual part size to the customer supplied CAD file that allows efficient first article inspections utilizing the customer specified tolerances. For more information, please visit our Quality page.